Saturday, May 26, 2018

Quilts Buried With the Silver-Or Should Have Been

Quilt by Jane McCullough Mosby (1785-1877)
Estimated date 1840-1860

This chintz quilt's journey tells us a little about Virginia's Civil War. It's pictured in a website about the culture in the Upper Shenandoah Valley, exhibited at the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Museum in 1995.

The quilt was loaned by the family who also kept the tale that it had been "stolen by federal soldiers during the Civil War, given to a black family, and purchased back by Jane's daughter."

I color corrected their pink photo by shifting it greener.
I think this would be more accurate.

Jane McCullough Mosby was born in Baltimore but spent most of her life in Staunton, (pronounced Stanton) Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, Augusta County. Jenny McCullough married Armistead Mosby on March 29, 1809 or 1810 (depending on the source) when she was about 25 years old.

The block chintz quilt is a distinctive style, typical of the twenty years before the Civil War. If  made in 1850 Jenny Mosby would have been 65 years old when she stitched the quilt.

Staunton right before the war

Armistead M. Mosby (1787- 1861) is described as one of three merchants in Staunton who
"supplied, not only the home demand, but a portion of eastern Virginia, with saddlery, leather and tinware, making frequent trips to the south of James river, in wagons, to sell or barter the products of their shops." Jenny and Armistead had one daughter Sarah Elizabeth born in 1812.

Lewis Miller's sketchbook of Virginia scenes includes
this one of Staunton slaves who've been sold 
walking to Tennessee.

Merchants like Armistead in early 19th-century Virginia were slaveholders. Records from 1827 list six people---Albert, Anthony, Dick, Frank, Lucy and Maria---in indentures. (Perhaps Lucy and Maria worked on the quilt.) I actually wouldn't be surprised to find it to be Sarah's quilt rather than her mother's. And lately I have been looking at quilts with Broderie Perse blocks and wondering how many of them were purchased from professional quiltmakers.

See a post on Virginia quiltmakers who made quilts similar to this one:

The Mosbys were members of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton. This building erected in 1855 and enlarged in 1870 would have been familiar to the family. The Episcopal/Presbyterian congregation established the Virginia Female Institute in 1844 with Armistead on the board. Daughter Sarah may have been a teacher of drawing and painting there.

Sarah married Alexander Taylor, described in her obituary as a "prominent merchant of Staunton in his day. She leaves two children, Alexander Taylor of Gainesville, Fla., and Mrs. Margaret S. Weller of this city."

Jenny's husband died in his eighties
just as the Civil War began.

Staunton, the valley's major city, was primarily in Confederate hands during the war and in the midst of many Virginia battles. Sarah Mosby Taylor was recalled in her obituary as a "ministering angel" to Confederate soldiers in those years. Union troops occupied the town for a week in June,1864, setting fires and confiscating food and valuables, events repeated four months later and in the last weeks of the war in 1865.

Postwar history tells us of "widespread hunger and a severe shortage of hard currency." We can imagine the widowed Jenny, near 80, suffering the indignity of losing her quilt to Federal soldiers. During the battles a confiscated quilt might wind up warming a soldier in camp but the quilt may have been taken during Reconstruction days and given to one of the freedpeople, perhaps a Staunton resident or one of the new migrants who arrived looking for work in the city. Somehow daughter Sarah managed to find enough cash or barter to trade for the quilt's return.

Another of Jenny Mosby's legacies is the Bessie Weller school
in Staunton, named for her great-granddaughter, a school nurse.

Edward L. Ayers has studied Augusta County and the Civil War, comparing it to adjacent Franklin County, Pennsylvania. In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863 expands our view of the culture in those years with particular attention to the lives of the African-Americans living there.

See a preview here of the prize-winning social history:

The Lewis Miller sketch is from his Sketchbook of Virginia Landscapes in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum of Folk Art---more insight into the area.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Westering Women Samplers

Kay B

I've found some Westering Women finishes on the internet.

Great fabric choices here.

Fishmermaidman Posted Mom's quilt on Instagram

Ann L at the GardenofNeedles blog

See a post a few months ago on more finished Westering Women samplers

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Military Memory in a Sampler

Eagle with cannons, a liberty cap and 9 stars,
block from a mid-19th-century applique sampler.
Mexican War or Civil War?

I've been collecting photos of applique samplers for next
year's block of the month. Here's one that seem to have
some Civil War imagery in a center block.
But then again it could be the Mexican War of the late 1840s.

All I know about it is that dealers Kelter-MalcĂ©  advertised it about 30 years ago in a 1990 issue of 
the Clarion/Folk Art magazine from the American Museum of Folk Art.

They sold a lot of great quilts and are still selling antiques in Bridgehampton, New York.
A recent profile:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Quaker Pride---Block History

I tossed 20 of your blocks into a digital quilt.

Looks pretty good.

Dated 1851, made by students at the Five Point School
in Warren County, Ohio. Ohio Historical Society Collection.

I have many photos of this block because it was so popular as an album choice and because I like the way it works in design. The earliest dated examples I have in the photo files are from 1841 and 1842 at the beginning of the signature quilt craze.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Date: 1841. Signatures include
Mary Ann Skerrett, E.B. Phillips, George S. Lang,
Julian Phillips, and E. Phillips, Philadelphia

Collection of the Salem County Historical Society in New Jersey.
The makers lived in Mullica Hill in Gloucester County.

Samuel Gillingham was a Philadelphia Quaker

Very similar quilt attributed to Elizabeth Prickett of Burlington County from the Gloucester County Historical Society Museum. Striped sashing looks good whether the blocks are set on the square or on point.

Another dated 1841-1842 from the New Jersey Project

As Jessica Nicholl wrote three decades ago in her catalog: Quilted For Friends: Delaware Valley Signature Quilts: "Friends [Quakers] found the idea of memory quilt particularly compelling."
Nicholl studied several of these quilts and found they had signatures in common.

And then there are some fragments & blocks.

Presented to the Revd. Thomas P Hunt by the 
Ladies Total Abstinence Society, Philadelphia, 1842. 

Maybe this man: a famous temperance preacher who died in Philadelphia in 1876.
The fragment above was from an online auction.

Nicholl also lists an 1841 quilt made by the Female Jefferson Total Abstinence Society 
Presented to the Daughters of the Reverend Thomas and Anna Hunt
in the Atwater Kent/ Philadelphia History Museum Collection.

A fragment 1841-1842 that was once in Julie Silber's inventory, now
in Sandra Starley's collection.

Evalina L. Shaw's block, 1841

1842 Angelina Venable, a set of 12 blocks

At least two in a sampler album dated 1842, also in the Starley collection.

The block continued popular in the Delaware River Valley and spread to other regions. Here's a great version from the collection of the Mercer Museum, dated 1843-1844. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

The Delaware River Valley in eastern Pennsylvania
& western New Jersey.
The heart of album quilt country.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Lydia Hamilton Smith and a Movie Quilt

Tommy Lee Jones & S. Epatha Merkerson as 
Antislavery Activists Thaddeus Stevens & 
Lydia Hamilton Smith in the 2012 movie Lincoln

Always being up on the latest in cinema I just got around to
watching Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg version.

People had talked about the quilt on the bed at Lydia Smith's and Thaddeus
Stevens's 1865 Washington house.

I thought it was a good pick as far as historical accuracy, patchwork pattern and fabrics. The director and the art director obviously wanted to make a statement in that shot and such a vivid pattern certainly offers a visual counterpoint to the vivid image of the Congressman in bed with his black partner.

Green calico print in a block dated 1848

In the imaginary world here Lydia Hamilton Smith, a Pennsylvania native, might have made a quilt just like this or brought one from her home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The sepia movie palette has toned down the colors but I'd guess the stars are various bright colored prints set with overdyed green calico squares. The sashing looks like a California gold print.

California gold, a tiny chrome orange figure on a white ground---
very mid- to late-19th century.

The nine-patch star block, one of the oldest of patchwork designs.

Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Smith

Well, the quilt is accurate. How accurate is the image of Stevens and Smith in bed?

They were quite the item of gossip in Civil-War era Washington. If you read the papers you'd be familiar with the story. For example in June 1868 the Idaho Semi-Weekly World had some gossip:
"Mrs. Thad. Stevens---The mulatto paramour of Thad. Stevens, generally known as 'Mrs. Thad Stevens' was robbed in Lancaster (Pa.) lately, at the railroad depot, of $100 in greenbacks and three Mexican silver dollars, one diamond breastpin....This woman's former name was Smith. She was the wife of Jacob Smith....but through the influence of Thad. Stevens she left her husband and became his mistress and his housekeeper which double position she has filled for many years! "
In September, 1866 Wisconsin's LaCrosse Democrat printed a short rant about "Good Thaddeus! sweet paramour of the mulatto wench of Lancaster!"

Their Lancaster house on Queen Street is
being developed as a historic site.

We can hope Lydia was not unduly upset by such political meanness. Even after her death in 1884 the Raleigh, North Carolina Farmer & Mechanic referred to her as "the mulatto 'wife' of Thad Stevens, the virulent South-hater who forced the Reconstruction villainy upon our people."

Lydia Smith is an interesting woman without much public record yet. She is reputed to have worked with Stevens in assisting escaped slaves before the war and during the Civil War was active in soldiers' aid activities. After Stevens died in 1868 she bought a Washington boarding house with money he had left her in his will. 

Lydia's boarding house on Newspaper Row had a view of the Willard Hotel, the
large building on the corner in this photo of the Union victory parade in 1865.

A more respectful obituary of Lydia Smith that was copied
in several newspapers in 1884.

See Stevens's underground railroad activities in the Lancaster house application for National Parks Service status on the Network to Freedom in this PDF:

Christa Achtenberg won a ribbon for her star
quilt inspired by the movie quilt.

And Jeanne at Spiral tells us she loved the movie and made a quilt too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Southern Charm

Collection of the Charleston Museum #1992.45.2
106" square.

The Charleston Museum's annual quilt show comes down at the end of this month. Piece by Piece: Geometric Quilts features pieced quilts from their estimable collection. I noticed that this featured quilt, an Irish Chain variation, has a lot to do with our Antebellum Album block for this month, the block I'm calling Quaker Pride.

Becky Brown's Block #4 plus 2 setting blocks

I figured out that the Charleston quilt is two
separate blocks. 

The block of blue chintz is a double
nine patch much like the alternate block in our official set---different proportion.
The block that looks like the Quaker Pride album on point is
actually the same block shaded differently.

I've seen this simple and effective pattern in a couple of other quilts. MESDA has this pretty child's quilt from the Marion family in South Carolina. Again the double nine patch is a consistent fabric with the alternate album scrappy. A striped chintz border frames it.

Harriet Kirk Marion (1782-1856)
Berkeley County, South Carolina 58" x 44"
Collection: Museum of Southern Decorative Arts MESDA

On the reverse: a label added later says this small quilt was made for her granddaughter Harriet Marion Palmer born in 1830.

My third example is also Southern. I found it in the Georgia project book Georgia Quilts: Piecing Together a History.
This one is red and green and looks later than the chintz examples, perhaps made about 1860.
 The caption:
"Aunt Ollie's Quilt (Irish Chain Variation.) Makers said to be slaves on the Northern Glover Plantation near Albany (Dougherty County, Georgia.) 101" x 109".

I drew it up in EQ. It's a block of 25 squares based on a grid of 5.
I used 2" finished squares cut 2-1/2". Each block finishes to 10".

One block is shaded like this.

The other block is shaded like this

49 Blocks makes patchwork 70" x 70"
It would make a great charm quilt if you could control the shading
into light, mediums and darks.

With a chintz border of about 6" it would be 82" square

It's a cool design but it IS a large quilt made completely of 2" squares.
A crib quilt may be more do-able. Note the vintage examples that are over 100".

See more quilts in the Piece by Piece: Geometric Quilts at the Charleston Museum. It's up till May 31.